Geordies watch out – UCG heading south

Good news today for campaigners against unconventional gas with the announcement that Cluff Natural Resources has shelved plans to create the UK’s first deep offshore underground coal gasification (UCG) plant at Kincardine in Fife.

The company, which holds nine UCG licences across Scotland, England and Wales, made some pretty ambitious claims that the £250 million scheme could generate £603m for the economy and create 1,000 jobs.

It blamed the Scottish Government moratorium on the technology for the decision that came about as a result of campaign pressure, including an 8,000 signature petition. The company now plans to concentrate its effort in North-East England – so the Geordies has better watch out as they are to be test bed for this unproven technology.

The company may also have recognised that government policy was unlikely to change soon after a confidential draft report from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said the process could cause pollution, earthquakes, underground explosions and “uncontrollable” fires. The report admitted that it doesn’t know what level of protection its safety regulation can provide against the hazards of ‘underground coal gasification’ (UCG). The risks were “sometimes unknowable”.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This news represents a massive victory for all those who have campaigned long and hard to halt Cluff’s daft coal-burning plans. The science is clear – to protect our climate the vast majority of fossil fuel reserves must remain unburned.”

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